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Google Acquires 222 More IBM Patents

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the litigation-makes-the-world-go-round dept.

Google 73

itwbennett writes "The newly acquired patents include email management, server backup, tuning and recovery, e-commerce, advertising, mobile web page display, instant messaging, online calendaring, and database tuning. Google hasn't said why they wanted the patents, but it's a good bet they had fighting lawsuits in mind."

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'tis sad... (5, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584280)

...to remember the unbridled software-building activity and creativity of 10 to 12 years ago. Now, patent-fighting dominates it all. 'tis sad....

Re:'tis sad... (4, Interesting)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584628)

...to remember the unbridled software-building activity and creativity of 10 to 12 years ago. Now, patent-fighting dominates it all. 'tis sad....

That's not true. I for one and a whole lot of other (open source) developers just ignore all this kerfuffle and go on with our unbridled software-building activities. Everything and it's grandmother is patented nowadays, I guess just by touching the mouse and clicking a button in my own software I violate at least 20 patents plus 20 more because it's "on the internet". Add 40 to this if it's also "on a mobile device". Pffh.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584876)

So what happens when your open source project gets kicked out of a popular distribution's main repository because of patent threats?

Re:'tis sad... (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584998)

Then it moves to a mirror in France and users are told to get it from there. Things like libavcodec violate a load of patents and can't legally be distributed in the USA, but they're fine pretty much everywhere else in the world.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585094)

Then it moves to a mirror in France and users are told to get it from there.

So how do the developers of the project move their families to France?

And how do people who just want something they can plug in and use, not [expletive] around installing software that might end up being a trojan, use it? I have someone in another thread claiming that home theater PCs haven't taken off because no PC maker preinstalls XBMC.

Re:'tis sad... (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585250)

Those of us who don't already live in the USA keep working on it. And we encourage the few of you who do to fix the laws in your country. Although not too loudly, because we're actually okay with the USA losing its competitive edge internationally...

Re:'tis sad... (1)

WillerZ (814133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585264)

So how do the developers of the project move their families to France?

They just walk across the bridge near Strasbourg.

More seriously, it would be interesting to know the approximate geographic distribution of contributors to such projects. Most open source stuff I've downloaded has been in the origin-unknown category, or from european developers.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

tatman (1076111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585122)

and I lost interest in my project once I realized Cisco or AMD (sorry I cannot remember atm) had a patent covering my idea completely. I'm not interested in spending untold hours working on an idea only to have struggle with some strong arm legal crap. Its not about money. Its about people being able to enjoy my work. If I am not allowed to let people use what I have created, whats the point.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585218)

Upload your .deb or .rpm or .msi or whatever to your own web space? Anonymous if must be? Set up your own repository, with blackjack and hookers? Only on slashdot people believe the distributors pipe dream that non-default or not-in-the-official-repository software is a dead end. Tt still is the default in 90% of the consumer IT world, concerning PC software to browse the net and click on setup.exe or package.msi.

Good software does not need app stores or approval of some provider or any "official" stamp. It is the developers and maintainers job to make it easy to install and update it's software, which is (Ubuntu example) done by providing one box asking to be allowed to add a repository. Of course, the users have to trust you. Well then, be trustworthy! Provide documentation and tell the user what your software is doing. Like the authors of ubuntu-tweak or paint.net.

As bender would put it: Stop behaving like pussies and just write usable software! Arrrh.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38586586)

So what happens when your open source project gets kicked out of a popular distribution's main repository because of patent threats?

Two options - you fight the patent threat, or you abandon the project. The latter is a popular option.

One thing is that open-source projects rarely die - there's usually someone with the source code bundle. Just because it comes under patent threat - so what? You stop development and move on. If it's a good project, it'll live on - let the patent holders continue their whack-a-mole. And if you did things right, old distributions might hold an old copy of the code.

Unlike commercial software, of which there is only one vendor for, open-source software is ephermeral. Suing an open-source project just means it closes up, but it's definitely free to spring up elsewhere out of the author's control (at least free software).

So if you write FOSS software - the best answer is, "don't worry about it". You may have to give up your status as chief maintainer, but the project can live on.

Pre-trial settlement letter (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38587192)

Two options - you fight the patent threat, or you abandon the project. The latter is a popular option.

Unless the patent holder sends a "pre-trial settlement letter" demanding that the developer not only abandon the project but also pay a monetary settlement and/or forfeit the domain on which the project was hosted.

Re:Pre-trial settlement letter (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38594052)

Some other guy can just create a fork with a new domain name. Or even no domain at all, hosting in the Tor Network.

Re:Pre-trial settlement letter (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38595002)

Some other guy can just create a fork with a new domain name.

True, but that doesn't help if you were using your domain for things other than that project. Likewise, it doesn't help with something like "Ceasing and desisting is not enough. Pay up or we'll sue."

Re:'tis sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38585510)

I dunno, I'm already seeing the effects of patents in packages like Freetype (bytecode hinting) and Mesa where they couldn't use S3TC compressed textures for a long time until the patent expired just recently. If you look into the S3TC compression it makes me wonder how these things can be patented. The algorithm can be pretty much described as follows: group a bunch of pixels, pick some representative colors for this block of pixels, encode each pixel using just a few bits that index into these colors, done.

Now there's apparently a problem with getting full OpenGL 3 support because floating point textures are patented too, from what I've read these are apparently even more obvious too.

I fear with the increase in patent litigation, this problem is only going to get worse :/

Re:'tis sad... (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38586496)

"but it's a good bet they had fighting lawsuits in mind."

Why does Slashdot assume this? Motorola actively went after Apple, and Google owns Motorola. In spite of Google's public words, they are quite happy to go after others over patents.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

Phaedrus420 (860578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38587080)

Half of the article focuses on this, so the summary is fair.

Re:'tis sad... (1)

vinayg18 (1641855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589292)

Google !owns Motorola *FTFY

Tenth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584284)

oh

Re:Tenth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584344)

ohhhh.

Re:Tenth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584400)

oh?

Re:Tenth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38585438)

one?

Why did IBM give them up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584288)

Why would they sell them to Google?

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584390)

Google is looking to use patents defensively, they're offering money, and they support opensource. Must reiterate.. MONEY.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584470)

> Must reiterate.. MONEY.

At least you got that bit right.

Google want them because they are now in the business of patent trolling, given that their (successful) inventions are things of the increasingly distant past.
The only thing they're looking to defend is their income stream by ensuring that they can continue to sell the details of the people who use their products and services.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (5, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584698)

Can you show me a case where Google attempted patent trolling?

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585560)

I think (hope) this was a defensive move.Google, besides shuttering products they've introduced less than a year ago like whack-a-moles, they also innovate. They tend to be pretty good about getting their ducks in a row in any big market move. Look for a "fantastic" new product from Google in the next few months. I'm guessing.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (3, Insightful)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584776)

I can't find nor remember any story about Google patent trolling. I had no idea that patents in our current system have anything to do with invention.

Tinfoil hat or good troll. Not sure which as they both post with such conviction.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38585826)

Mine would be the tinfoil hat as it wasn't my intention to troll.

A traditional patent troll buys patents so that it can use them to make money from other people's work.
Google buys patents so that it can continue to make money from other people's work.
The first demands money directly, the second demands the use of patents so that it may benefit financially. To me their use of patents is broadly the same.
Some choose to justify Google's actions because they believe (wrongly IMO) that those actions aren't motivated solely by Google's self interest, or because they feel that the benefits to them personally are worth being beholden to Google, but ultimately the difference is that Google has a much more effective PR machine than your average patent troll.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588420)

At one level I agree. The problem is that you're painting with a mighty broad brush. If what you say is true, then virtually all corporate IP is equally evil, and the use of patents to protect one's "ideological turf" is as bad as using IP to extort the corporate landscape. There is nothing inherently wrong with a corporation or person having self interest. In fact self interest is at the crux of our design, even our genes want to survive.

There are ethical questions about what we are willing to do to fulfill our own personal interest. Some look for constructive answers to the question, others find solutions that are destructive. I would argue that defending yourself from constant attack, though not purely constructive is certainly not destructive. Its sad that our business landscape has degenerated into IP turf wars, but Google didn't invent that either. Using IP as a weapon to demand tribute, control economies, destroy competition and/or dominate the playing field would fall under the heading of destructive acts of self interest. Patent Trolls, do not contribute to society, they get wealthy by destroying innovation and they are simply parasites. We need to build a little more pest control into our IP legal system, its horribly broken.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (5, Insightful)

AlecC (512609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584484)

Google is offering money. I bet IBM retain a perpetual licence for their own use, so they haven't lost the use of the patents. IBM probably didn't expect to use the patents - they were just part of their armoury. Google needs that armoury more, and is willing to pay for it. Like one army selling weaponry surplus to its needs to another. IBM would probably like the counter-patents broken: as a services company nowadays, IBM has less to gain from patent monopolisation than it used to.

Re:Why did IBM give them up? (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584856)

Why would they sell them to Google?

The main point is that most of the juicy targets for these patents are IBM customers and/or have some license agreements with IBM. That makes it very difficult for IBM to start suing. Also IBM is making a whole load of money so they might suffer big time in any countersuits. Google on the other hand has no choice but to sue.

If Google does't make a special point of going after Microsoft parnters and even exclusive Microsoft customers at this point, when Microsoft already started going after Google's phone manufacturer customers, then Google will be seen as spineless and failing to get proper shareholder value from their patent investments. That's a situation which pretty much suits IBM which has been completely cheated by Microsoft and needs to get revenge.

Apart from that, IBM will of course get an automatic license for these patents and probably has five other patents covering each area in these patents so loses absolutely nothing from the sale.

Time to start Migrating off Microsoft products to things belonging to neutral vendors (I'm not sure I would go for Google personally; actually IBM might well be the best place to buy from..). I certainly wouldn't want to be an exclusive Microsoft shop in the next few years. A bit like being the Czech republic before the second world war really. It doesn't matter who wins, you know you are going to suffer.

Patent Top Trumps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584292)

Its a losers game.

Fuck 'em ALL.

REGULATORS! Let's Saddle up! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584418)

YOu guys!
You gUys!
DID you see the size of that... CHICKEN?

Hey dog, dog ! Did YOU see the size of that chicken?

Why not license them instead? (3, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584456)

Why did IBM sell the patents instead of licensing them to Google? Wouldn't it be better for IBM to hold the patents to license them to other folks, or have them in their patent defense arsenal?

Someone please enlighten me.

Re:Why not license them instead? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584524)

Google wants the patents to fight Apple. So they offer to buy the patents (and probably licence them cheap/free back to IBM).

Net result: IBM keeps doing what they're doing but Google gives them a pile of money.

If IBM says "no" Google will go buy someone else's patents, and IBM basically just left money on the table.

Re:Why not license them instead? (2)

jeti (105266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584806)

Patents like 7100154 [uspto.gov] and 5937406 [uspto.gov] seem to be more useful against Oracle than Apple. These patents are a mixed bag.

Re:Why not license them instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38587016)

That's basically query optimization and Database+VFS type stuff, including the likes of Clear Case. Both of which seem like good anti-Oracle fodder.

Thanks.

Not when Oracle OWNS a hell of a lot more patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38592740)

... for database related features.

Re:Why not license them instead? (4, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584526)

(1) Google probably paid more to have exclusive rights to the patents. There's no point in having a patent that a potential defendant can go to IBM to license, thereby circumventing your lawsuit.
(2) IBM has so many patents that they are essentially lawsuit-proof. Selling these rights to Google instead of licensing them doesn't lower IBM's ability to defend itself against a patent lawsuit.

Re:Why not license them instead? (1)

SEE (7681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589564)

IBM has a big enough arsenal and enough cross-licensing agreements that they can afford to sell part of the arsenal for money. Google isn't interested in a license, because a license wouldn't let Google use the patents as part of Google's patent defense arsenal.

Yeah, yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584464)

email management, server backup, tuning and recovery, e-commerce, advertising, mobile web page display, instant messaging, online calendaring, and database tuning...

Of course, IBM were the very very first to invent any of this, no prior art detected.

But wait until my patent is granted: "general purpose electrical device for the automated term normalization of terms of the lambda calculus, pi calculus, and equi-expressive calculi or sub-calculi, with extensions for handling of input/output"

Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38584488)

Why is IBM selling them?

Software patents stymie more than helps... (5, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584690)

We need to double our efforts to eliminate software patents. These patents are preventing us from reaching our full potential. I remember the good old days when we developed software for fun and profit and took inspiration from other programs and added one more innovative feature to them.

Now we have patents for the most obvious bullshit out there. We need to stop this madness. Every time I see these patents I think back to my calendar program. It had a month and day view and allowed you to enter appointments and let you know if there was a scheduling conflict (this was a big deal in 1982/83). I didn't really plan on publishing it in a magazine but I had a dick of a friend who mailed an early version of my program to an Atari magazine in exchange for a 1200 baud modem. The only thing that consoled my anger towards the little turd was the fact that perhaps someone else was improving on it and possibly showing off their improvements to like minded enthusiasts. My family was poor so I really had no recourse. I did learn a valuable lesson of securing my diskettes.

Anyway despite the way the program entered the public domain, it was how things were done back then. Desktop computing was a very new concept and we gathered together at local computer users groups and showed off what we did and explained how we did it. We were basically learning from each other. I support the GPL since I think it preserves some of the philosophy we had back then. Don't get me wrong, I don't agree that all software should be free but I do think that if I share something with you and you add to it then you should share back. I also believe that software patents are counter productive and slowing our progress.

Now I don't think anybody could make a neat program without the risk of being sued by a patent troll or a corporation that wants to keep a monopoly position in their market segment. This shit has to stop. How do we really expect healthy innovation and competition to continue in the next decade with this escalating patent threat.

My rambling rant is over... sigh.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38586170)

I work with a guy named Bill...you sound cool like him.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588322)

I also believe that software patents are counter productive and slowing our progress.

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act. Do you have any evidence? Software has been patentable for about 30 years... How has our progress been slowed in that time, and where would we be now otherwise?

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588496)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act. Do you have any evidence? Software has been patentable for about 30 years... How has our progress been slowed in that time, and where would we be now otherwise?

What evidence do you want? Do I need to point to software which hasn't been written, features which don't exist, either because patents prevented someone from implementing them, or rational fear of patents prevented someone from implementing them, or the time and resources which could have been spent building them was spent instead "inventing around" or fighting bogus patents? Because I can't do that. You know why I can't do that?

BECAUSE THE PROGRESS WHICH WAS PREVENTED BY PATENTS DOESN'T EXIST TO BE POINTED AT! THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588604)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act. Do you have any evidence? Software has been patentable for about 30 years... How has our progress been slowed in that time, and where would we be now otherwise?

What evidence do you want? Do I need to point to software which hasn't been written, features which don't exist, either because patents prevented someone from implementing them, or rational fear of patents prevented someone from implementing them, or the time and resources which could have been spent building them was spent instead "inventing around" or fighting bogus patents? Because I can't do that. You know why I can't do that?

BECAUSE THE PROGRESS WHICH WAS PREVENTED BY PATENTS DOESN'T EXIST TO BE POINTED AT! THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT!

So instead we should just take it on blind faith that those features would have been invented, but for patents? At what point does this "software patents stifle innovation" become a religion, rather than a conclusion based off evidence?

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38591460)

So instead we should just take it on blind faith that those features would have been invented, but for patents? At what point does this "software patents stifle innovation" become a religion, rather than a conclusion based off evidence?

You've already made "software patents don't stifle innovation" a religious tenet by refusing to accept any evidence for the opposite except that which by nature cannot exist. There's plenty of evidence (included ad nauseum in most slashdot patent stories) that software patents do stifle and are stifling innovation, but you're not willing to accept anything but examples of innovations that don't exist because of patents.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38591560)

So instead we should just take it on blind faith that those features would have been invented, but for patents? At what point does this "software patents stifle innovation" become a religion, rather than a conclusion based off evidence?

You've already made "software patents don't stifle innovation" a religious tenet by refusing to accept any evidence for the opposite except that which by nature cannot exist. There's plenty of evidence (included ad nauseum in most slashdot patent stories) that software patents do stifle and are stifling innovation, but you're not willing to accept anything but examples of innovations that don't exist because of patents.

Not so... I'd also be fine with some objective measures - say, number of white papers and research publications in software per year before it was patentable vs. number since. Or numbers of software patents granted per year in the first few years it was first deemed patentable vs. number now. Or number of software products on the market then vs. number now.

You'll likely disagree with all those metrics, since they all support my argument, but that's fine - do you have any objective metrics that can be looked at? And reasonable ones that can be compared - for example "amount of software patent litigation now" vs. "amount of software patent litigation" in 1970 is moot since there were no software patents. But, you could look at patent litigation in, say, the late 90s vs. the late 2000s. I don't think it'll support your argument, though.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588866)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act.

I believe it's a little more than a gut feeling, but you're right we should qualify all our opinions with concrete evidence. So I did a little digging. Back in 1987, I wrote a program that stored pre-printed forms in a searchable database and used that information to generate completed forms that matched the bills of lading provided by various shipping lines (Blank Paper in / Forms indistinguishable from preprinted ones provided by shipping line already filled with customer data out). Apparently if I tried to market such a turnkey solution today I could be sued for violating portions of US Patent 7,978,349 "Apparatus and Method for High Speed Printing of Form and Variable Data" which was filed on April 27, 2006 and granted on July 12, 2011. I think the patent applies more toward the continuous feed printer than the form storage and variable data portion however I would have to budget for a possible legal battle or license agreement. In addition, I could be sued for violating US Patent 4,944,614 "Form Overlay Type Printing Apparatus" filed on Feb 7, 1989 and granted July 31, 1990. This is a liability minefield with more mines being laid every day. WIth the potential customers for this small niche market being small, I'm certain that competitors would use any patent advantage possible to maintain some unfair market advantage (Or better yet what prevents me from doing the same to another person and keep the price of this software artificially high?).

I can probably look at my whole software portfolio and do a "what if I published it today?" scenario and see potential for patent infringements lawsuits in the majority of them. I'm not even considering the patenting of software features within mobile computing operating systems on commodity wireless telephony equipment.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589086)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act.

I believe it's a little more than a gut feeling, but you're right we should qualify all our opinions with concrete evidence. So I did a little digging. Back in 1987, I wrote a program that stored pre-printed forms in a searchable database and used that information to generate completed forms that matched the bills of lading provided by various shipping lines (Blank Paper in / Forms indistinguishable from preprinted ones provided by shipping line already filled with customer data out). Apparently if I tried to market such a turnkey solution today I could be sued for violating portions of US Patent 7,978,349 "Apparatus and Method for High Speed Printing of Form and Variable Data" which was filed on April 27, 2006 and granted on July 12, 2011.

Certainly not. That patent requires a web form as part of the claims, and your program in 1987 was not on the web. Thus, it could not possibly infringe the claims. Additionally, that patent requires a plurality of fixed ink jet heads that span the width of the sheet. Your software program was not a printer with a plurality of ink jet heads, so again, you could not infringe the claims.

I think the patent applies more toward the continuous feed printer than the form storage and variable data portion however I would have to budget for a possible legal battle or license agreement. In addition, I could be sued for violating US Patent 4,944,614 "Form Overlay Type Printing Apparatus" filed on Feb 7, 1989 and granted July 31, 1990.

Again, unless you were building printers, you couldn't infringe that patent with your mere software program.

This is a liability minefield with more mines being laid every day. WIth the potential customers for this small niche market being small, I'm certain that competitors would use any patent advantage possible to maintain some unfair market advantage (Or better yet what prevents me from doing the same to another person and keep the price of this software artificially high?).

I can probably look at my whole software portfolio and do a "what if I published it today?" scenario and see potential for patent infringements lawsuits in the majority of them. I'm not even considering the patenting of software features within mobile computing operating systems on commodity wireless telephony equipment.

The above examples aside, if you're saying that you can come along after someone else has patented a technology, do the same thing, and expect a patent infringement suit or have to take a license, then, yeah. But I fail to see how that supports the proposition that innovation is being stifled - you're not the innovator in those situations, rather, the inventor on the patent was.

The best evidence for patents stifling innovation would be that no research was being done in software development, or that the pace of patent filings had slowed since these infringement suits, or that the number of products on the market now was fewer than was on the market in the 1980s, or that students were turning to other engineering fields on the grounds that software is tapped out, etc. The argument that there are many existing patents to infringe instead points to a great deal of innovation in recent history.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589358)

Certainly not. That patent requires a web form as part of the claims, and your program in 1987 was not on the web. Thus, it could not possibly infringe the claims. Additionally, that patent requires a plurality of fixed ink jet heads that span the width of the sheet. Your software program was not a printer with a plurality of ink jet heads, so again, you could not infringe the claims.

My program ran from a central computer in a multiuser environment. Why should the "web" differentiate between my application and the patent filer especially since the only difference is the protocol used between the web (HTML) today and the ascii terminals in use back then? Excuse me for not clarifying when I used the term "turnkey solution" I meant a self contained system that included a printer. There is no non-patent related issue that prevents me from putting the CPU board, Drives, print logic board, and print engine in the same chassis. Of course I am not a lawyer, but I was under the impression that concepts (business methods) are protected by the patent claims and not the implementation details meaning that using a different method to accomplish what is claimed in the patent award doesn't necessarily relieve me from liability due to infringement.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589582)

Certainly not. That patent requires a web form as part of the claims, and your program in 1987 was not on the web. Thus, it could not possibly infringe the claims. Additionally, that patent requires a plurality of fixed ink jet heads that span the width of the sheet. Your software program was not a printer with a plurality of ink jet heads, so again, you could not infringe the claims.

My program ran from a central computer in a multiuser environment. Why should the "web" differentiate between my application and the patent filer especially since the only difference is the protocol used between the web (HTML) today and the ascii terminals in use back then?

Bearing in mind that we're talking about infringement, not validity, if the claim says "web interface" and you didn't have a web interface, you can't infringe. It's like if I got a patent with a claim that said "a computing device, comprising a red outer case," and you made a computer that was blue - you can't infringe, regardless of whether a "red" case is obvious or not. Here, the claims require a web interface, as well as a paper-wide fixed inkjet head. You didn't have those, so you don't infringe, by definition.

Excuse me for not clarifying when I used the term "turnkey solution" I meant a self contained system that included a printer. There is no non-patent related issue that prevents me from putting the CPU board, Drives, print logic board, and print engine in the same chassis. Of course I am not a lawyer, but I was under the impression that concepts (business methods) are protected by the patent claims and not the implementation details meaning that using a different method to accomplish what is claimed in the patent award doesn't necessarily relieve me from liability due to infringement.

That is true, but you still have to meet each and every element of the claimed invention in order to infringe. If you did an identical turnkey system that instead used a laser printer, you wouldn't infringe. If you did an identical turnkey system, but used blue ink rather than black ink (neither of which is mentioned in the claim), then you would infringe. Or if they programmed theirs in C and you programmed yours in COBOL (again, neither of which is mentioned in the claim), you'd still infringe. The patent claims protect against any implementation of the idea in the claims, but you still have to hit every element. That's why the more elements in the claim (and those are HUGE claims), the tougher it is to infringe and the easier to design around. Every single word narrows the scope of protection.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590114)

Bearing in mind that we're talking about infringement, not validity, if the claim says "web interface" and you didn't have a web interface, you can't infringe. It's like if I got a patent with a claim that said "a computing device, comprising a red outer case," and you made a computer that was blue - you can't infringe, regardless of whether a "red" case is obvious or not. Here, the claims require a web interface, as well as a paper-wide fixed inkjet head. You didn't have those, so you don't infringe, by definition.

You can't use design patents as an example of how you can't be found infringing a utility patent. I can be found liable for infringing a patent on the basis that my invention is equivalent to the claim. Look up the doctrine of equivalents.

That is true, but you still have to meet each and every element of the claimed invention in order to infringe. If you did an identical turnkey system that instead used a laser printer, you wouldn't infringe...

Again I refer you to the concept behind the "doctrine of equivalents" as applied to US patent law.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590386)

Bearing in mind that we're talking about infringement, not validity, if the claim says "web interface" and you didn't have a web interface, you can't infringe. It's like if I got a patent with a claim that said "a computing device, comprising a red outer case," and you made a computer that was blue - you can't infringe, regardless of whether a "red" case is obvious or not. Here, the claims require a web interface, as well as a paper-wide fixed inkjet head. You didn't have those, so you don't infringe, by definition.

You can't use design patents as an example of how you can't be found infringing a utility patent. I can be found liable for infringing a patent on the basis that my invention is equivalent to the claim. Look up the doctrine of equivalents.

Sorry, I was trying to make an analogy that was clear and easy to understand (and yes, the doctrine of equivalents applies to design patents, too). But is this clearer for you:
I get a patent on "a seating device with four legs, an attached horizontal plane for supporting one's buttocks, and an upright plane fixed at one edge of the horizontal plane and extending vertically to support one's back" and you make a three-legged chair. You can't possibly infringe, because my seating device requires four legs, and you don't meet that element, regardless of whether "four" is obvious or not over "three".

If I said "plurality of legs", you'd infringe. But I said "four". The doctrine of equivalents cannot negate an explicit limitation, it can merely replace an element - e.g. "legs" - with a substantially equivalent element - e.g. "feet extending from a single leg". But you still need to meet the element - if you replaced my four legs with one leg that breaks out to four feet, that would infringe. If you only have three legs, or feet, or whatnots, you haven't met the limitation, even under the doctrine of equivalents.

That is true, but you still have to meet each and every element of the claimed invention in order to infringe. If you did an identical turnkey system that instead used a laser printer, you wouldn't infringe...

Again I refer you to the concept behind the "doctrine of equivalents" as applied to US patent law.

Go read that claim, and tell me that a laser printer performs the same function in substantially the same way. Not the function of "printing", mind you, but all of those elements in the claim. It's huge - it needs a plurality of ink jet heads fixed to span the printing medium, it needs separate print modules for the variable bits than for the fixed bits, etc. You'd need two laser printers to come even close.

Plus, from experience, without even looking at the original application, I can tell you that that claim was significantly amended during prosecution. And, as you know, the doctrine of equivalents cannot be used to negate prosecution history estoppel.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590648)

Sorry, I was trying to make an analogy that was clear and easy to understand (and yes, the doctrine of equivalents applies to design patents, too). But is this clearer for you:

I get a patent on "a seating device with four legs, an attached horizontal plane for supporting one's buttocks, and an upright plane fixed at one edge of the horizontal plane and extending vertically to support one's back" and you make a three-legged chair. You can't possibly infringe, because my seating device requires four legs, and you don't meet that element, regardless of whether "four" is obvious or not over "three".

Thanks for the clarification. Would an attorney advise me to have my patent cover my specific implementation detail or would that attorney advise me to make my implementation details generic enough to stifle competition yet specific enough to remain competitive?

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590654)

remain competitive?

That should be "remain patentable?"

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590820)

Would an attorney advise me to have my patent cover my specific implementation detail or would that attorney advise me to make my implementation details generic enough to stifle competition yet specific enough to remain patentable?

(including the substitution) The latter. But that's my point... If I have to narrow my claims to get a patent - such as specifying 4 legs - then you can work around them. And, if you don't meet that narrowed limitation, you haven't infringed.

Ideally, I'd like never to narrow my claims. I'd like to claim "A seating device, period." But I can't do that because prior art exists, so I have to keep adding more and more elements until I come up with something novel and nonobvious. But my scope of protection shrinks with every word, and if you're outside of it - a laser printer instead of my dual fixed inkjet printer heads with variable spacing for drying time - you don't infringe, regardless of the DoE.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589986)

This is a liability minefield with more mines being laid every day. WIth the potential customers for this small niche market being small, I'm certain that competitors would use any patent advantage possible to maintain some unfair market advantage (Or better yet what prevents me from doing the same to another person and keep the price of this software artificially high?).

I can probably look at my whole software portfolio and do a "what if I published it today?" scenario and see potential for patent infringements lawsuits in the majority of them. I'm not even considering the patenting of software features within mobile computing operating systems on commodity wireless telephony equipment.

The above examples aside, if you're saying that you can come along after someone else has patented a technology, do the same thing, and expect a patent infringement suit or have to take a license, then, yeah. But I fail to see how that supports the proposition that innovation is being stifled - you're not the innovator in those situations, rather, the inventor on the patent was.

No my point is that I can create something to solve a particular problem and attempt to market it and get clobbered by someone who has a patent that is written very vaguely or by someone who claims that my software infringes portions of their "submarine patent". Who pays for my defense? Is it worth while for me to market my software? Don't believe me, just google for all the patent infringement cases that come up in Texas courts.

The best evidence for patents stifling innovation would be that no research was being done in software development, or that the pace of patent filings had slowed since these infringement suits, or that the number of products on the market now was fewer than was on the market in the 1980s, or that students were turning to other engineering fields on the grounds that software is tapped out, etc. The argument that there are many existing patents to infringe instead points to a great deal of innovation in recent history.

I disagree. Your argument of some research is still being done in software development then software patents aren't harming the progress of the advancement of the science seems flawed since the existence of research doesn't equate to amount of progress being done. What evidence can be collected on research not being done due to software patents? How much money is being lost on patent searches and litigation? Not to mention that not all patents awarded are that innovative! Does "single click to buy" deserve a patent? How about extendable XML? You imply that lofty ideas are being patented while the legal docket at the courthouse in Marshall, Texas seem to indicate differently.

As for the pace of software patents: The number of patents filed do not indicate quality and may reflect a ill-conceived system in a feedback loop caused by people filing defensive patents, people filing submarine patents, and people filing patents as a metric of their work performance in a corporate environment. This metric seems to be more of a measure of how lucrative the market is for patent attorneys than a measure of how beneficial the system is to the software development ecosystem.

BTW just so you know, students ARE turning to other engineering fields on the grounds that software is tapped out or more accurately don't have as good a prospect for employment than other fields of study. So I don't think you really intended to use that metric to support your argument.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590262)

No my point is that I can create something to solve a particular problem and attempt to market it and get clobbered by someone who has a patent that is written very vaguely or by someone who claims that my software infringes portions of their "submarine patent". Who pays for my defense? Is it worth while for me to market my software? Don't believe me, just google for all the patent infringement cases that come up in Texas courts.

As an aside, submarine patents are mostly gone... The law was changed 15 years ago to fix exactly that situation.
For the others, it's the same as I said - you're "creating" something that is covered by an existing patent... While you can look at it from your surprised and understandably anguished perspective, it can also be looked at from the side of someone who applied for a patent, paid for its prosecution, got the issued patent, and then someone pops up and starts doing exactly their new invention. Why is that fair?

The answer is that neither side is particularly great, but if the government has to take sides, it has to go with the one who did it first and jumped through the hoops of filing the application, which would be the other guy.

I disagree. Your argument of some research is still being done in software development then software patents aren't harming the progress of the advancement of the science seems flawed since the existence of research doesn't equate to amount of progress being done. What evidence can be collected on research not being done due to software patents?

Well, are there more research papers being published now on software than in the 1970s, pre-software patents?

How much money is being lost on patent searches and litigation?

People spend a lot of money on license fees, too... Does that mean we should abolish copyright, and people should just be free to take anything they wish? It's either a cost of doing business, or a cost of existing within a system that believes in property rights.

Not to mention that not all patents awarded are that innovative! Does "single click to buy" deserve a patent?

Nope, but the Amazon One-Click patent went a lot further than that. It even survived reexamination against every piece of prior art the Free Software Foundation could throw at it. No one was doing it previously, and lots of places have bought a license and implemented it since to improve their systems. Sounds pretty innovative and economically valuable.

How about extendable XML? You imply that lofty ideas are being patented while the legal docket at the courthouse in Marshall, Texas seem to indicate differently.

i4i's system also went a lot further than mere XML, and that patent stood all the way up through the Supreme Court. You imply that these patents are not lofty ideas based on pithy three-word descriptions of them, but of course a three-word description is going to miss any novelty. If I tried to describe the Toyota Prius to you in a short term, I'd say "a car that can run on gas or electricity," and yeah, that would be obvious. But that's not what is claimed in a patent on the gas-electric hybrid transmission. "Clicking once" is obvious... The concept of a shopping-cart system that disregards the shopping cart while utilizing its credentials is less so, and once you get to the actual (and long) claim, it's pretty damn specific. Like those patents you cited earlier, the One-Click patent is not just a broad idea, but a very specific implementation with a lot of elements.

As for the pace of software patents: The number of patents filed do not indicate quality and may reflect a ill-conceived system in a feedback loop caused by people filing defensive patents, people filing submarine patents, and people filing patents as a metric of their work performance in a corporate environment.

As noted above, submarine patents don't exist any more due to the change in the law. As for the others, patents cost money... It's about $25k to get a patent, possibly more. That's a pretty large business expense, and that businesses file a lot means they think there's a return there.
And as an aside, defensive patents refer to their usage - they still have to be just as novel and nonobvious as a patent used offensively. It's not like there's a quick "I'm only using this defensively, so issue it for short money" rubber stamp.

BTW just so you know, students ARE turning to other engineering fields on the grounds that software is tapped out or more accurately don't have as good a prospect for employment than other fields of study. So I don't think you really intended to use that metric to support your argument.

As you note, it's because of the lack of employment. If you want to say the lack of employment is due to patents, as opposed to the collapse of the global economy and the ease of off-shoring software development to India, China, or Korea, then that's a pretty big claim.

Finally, I understand your disagreement with my suggested objective measures of whether patents stifle software innovation... do you have any ideas?

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589530)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling..

Tonnes of academic papers have been put up repeatedly by many on Slashdot. It's astounding what you patent shills think you can get away with asserting a if that makes it true. For a basic list of actual economic evidence you could start here [endsoftpatents.org]

I am nowhere near the first person to post this stuff to Slashdot and I am calling you out as a liar, either by pretending to make an authoritative statement about something you know nothing about or, by simply knowing that what you said was dead wrong. It's one thing to claim that the evidence is no good. Another thing to deny that it exists.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589814)

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling..

Tonnes of academic papers have been put up repeatedly by many on Slashdot. It's astounding what you patent shills think you can get away with asserting a if that makes it true. For a basic list of actual economic evidence you could start here [endsoftpatents.org]

Except that none of that evidence speaks to the proposition that software patents stifle innovation. Assuming for the sake of argument that all of those findings are true:
- "pro-softpatent analysts have yet to find benefit from software patents" means that their value is in question. It doesn't mean they stifle innovation.
- "software patents affect more than just software companies" has nothing to do with whether software patents stifle innovation, and in fact, points to the wide reach of software as an industry
- "software is a complex industry" is based on the argument that computing devices have thousands of components, while drugs only have a few. So? This ignores the doctrine of patent exhaustion.
- "patent suits cost billions of dollars per year" also says nothing about whether patents stifle innovation. Licensing fees also cost a ton of money, so does copyright stifle innovation? At best, it says that protecting ones property is a necessary cost of doing business. At worst, this argument says that no intellectual property should have any protection and we shouldn't pay for any software, which would do more to stifle innovation than anything else.
- "Government intervention in the market is generally taken to be a last resort" is incorrect in this application. Patents have been around here since 1790. They were one of the first acts passed by Congress after this country was founded. They were so important that they're explicitly in the Constitution. It's not a last resort by any means, unless the argument is that every single industry in this country would have collapsed in 1791.

They simply don't point to the conclusion "software patents stifle innovation." At most, they point to the conclusion "software patents may have a negligible effect on innovation".

And that's assuming that all of those are true and valid arguments, which they aren't. For example, contrary to their first (and strongest) point about VCs ignoring patents, that's simply incorrect. There are 14 million hits [google.com] on Google for valuation of patents, and, as a patent attorney who works with VCs in the software industry, I can tell you that patents and other intellectual property are the primary value of a company. You think your servers are worth anything? Or your cube farm? Pennies on the dollar. How about your copyrighted software - maybe it's just patents that aren't valued? No... I can get a team of programmers in India or Russia to reverse engineer your software and have a new version out within a few weeks, so if that were the sole measure of a company's worth, no software company would be worth more than a hundred thousand, at most.
But the patents? Those are worth money.

But don't take my word for it. Surely you've heard of patent trolls, right? Or companies like Intellectual Ventures? Do you think a VC could buy those companies for just a couple thousand for their office furniture and real estate leases, or do you think that their patent holdings may make them a lot more expensive? The very fact that they exist indicates that patents have economic value.

I am nowhere near the first person to post this stuff to Slashdot and I am calling you out as a liar, either by pretending to make an authoritative statement about something you know nothing about or, by simply knowing that what you said was dead wrong. It's one thing to claim that the evidence is no good. Another thing to deny that it exists.

And yet in spite of your dickbag posturing, I've responded in good faith, without calling you any names. See how much good will I have? Stop slinging around insults and debate the issues, or just out yourself as a troll.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590508)

Except that none of that evidence speaks to the proposition that software patents stifle innovation.

Depends on your definition of innovation. I couldn't help but notice that we're omitting competition from the argument and only talking about "innovation". I have yet to see an argument that software only innovations need more protection than what is provided by copyright. Competition means more jobs, more features being added to competing products, improved quality, and cheaper prices. Software patents only serve to benefit a single holder and his licensees and keep the profit margin high by the monopoly power that the patent grants, not to mention keeps competitive pressure to improve quality low.

They simply don't point to the conclusion "software patents stifle innovation." At most, they point to the conclusion "software patents may have a negligible effect on innovation".

I don't believe any evidence have been provided by you that suggests the amount of the effect is negligible. The only thing I'm seeing in this branch of the comment thread is both sides offering their opinion and rtfa-troll's opinion appears to be just as valid as yours. Not that I agree with all of the points offered by the activist website that rtfa-troll linked.

For example, contrary to their first (and strongest) point about VCs ignoring patents, that's simply incorrect. There are 14 million hits [google.com] on Google for valuation of patents, and, as a patent attorney who works with VCs in the software industry, I can tell you that patents and other intellectual property are the primary value of a company.

I agree. A patent does provide an economic benefit to its holder but doesn't necessarily translates into promoting the art that is software development. A crude example would be me having a picture of a powerful politician fucking a goat. This picture would be very valuable to me and any of my associates that could benefit from my having leverage over the politician. However the existence of the picture isn't beneficial to the political system as a whole. Like the picture, a utility patent is leverage that can be used against other participants in the software market for monetary gain.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590792)

I have yet to see an argument that software only innovations need more protection than what is provided by copyright.

Sure. Copyright protects a specific tangible embodiment. If I cut and paste your source code without permission, I've infringed your copyright. If I play with your program for a while and then code an identical program on my own, I have not infringed your copyright. If I send your program to my team of reverse engineers and coders in Russia and crank out my own copy, I have not infringed your copyright. Thus, it's relatively trivial to get around copyright, particularly if I've got money.

Furthermore, copyright infringement is just as expensive as patent litigation, if not more so... You have to actually prove not just that my program is identical to your program, but that I copied your program rather than writing it on my own. One of your arguments against patents was the high cost of litigation - copyright is just as bad, if not worse.

Additionally, because copyright is so easy to get around if you're rich and only possible to protect if you're rich, it really only helps wealthy corporations, rather than individuals. I'm Microsoft, and you're an independent developer with a good product? Yoink. Say hello to the next version of Office. Good luck suing me.

And finally, unlike a patent, I wouldn't ever consider purchasing your copyright from you or taking a license, because it's so trivial to get around. Your copyright would have no use to me against my competitors for that reason.

So, copyright is woefully inadequate to protect software developers.

Competition means more jobs, more features being added to competing products, improved quality, and cheaper prices. Software patents only serve to benefit a single holder and his licensees and keep the profit margin high by the monopoly power that the patent grants, not to mention keeps competitive pressure to improve quality low.

Rampant copying of ideas destroys their commercial value, reducing jobs, eliminating features, and decreasing quality. Prices are reduced to fire sale levels until competition dies, and then raise. The monopoly power granted by patents prevents that copying.

And competition still exists. I don't see an absence of software developers out there. In fact, we now have what, five different smartphone OSs competing in the market, although admittedly, I doubt one of them will last through the year. But that's due to market forces and lack of customer demand, not patent litigation.

They simply don't point to the conclusion "software patents stifle innovation." At most, they point to the conclusion "software patents may have a negligible effect on innovation".

I don't believe any evidence have been provided by you that suggests the amount of the effect is negligible. The only thing I'm seeing in this branch of the comment thread is both sides offering their opinion and rtfa-troll's opinion appears to be just as valid as yours. Not that I agree with all of the points offered by the activist website that rtfa-troll linked.

Specifically, their first point was that some guy interviewed some VCs who said, "patents? We don't think about them when we purchase a company." That doesn't say that patents stifle innovation, but, at best, that patents have little to no value.

A patent does provide an economic benefit to its holder but doesn't necessarily translates into promoting the art that is software development. A crude example would be me having a picture of a powerful politician fucking a goat. This picture would be very valuable to me and any of my associates that could benefit from my having leverage over the politician. However the existence of the picture isn't beneficial to the political system as a whole. Like the picture, a utility patent is leverage that can be used against other participants in the software market for monetary gain.

Sure, but the individual patent is not what causes innovation. As you note, a patent, by definition, prevents others from implementing the same idea. What causes innovation is the required disclosure of the patent. Others can see how the patent owner implemented their idea, and then, rather than recreating the idea, they can innovate new improvements. The alternate situation is in trade secrets, where 100 engineers at 100 companies will all spend time in individual locked R&D labs recreating the same one idea over and over. If the first engineer published, the other companies could take a license, and the other 99 could move on to the next idea. That reduction in "re-invention" and wasted man-hours is how the patent system spurs innovation... not by "rewarding" an inventor. If an idea is economically valuable, someone will eventually invent it and exploit it... what patents do is encourage public disclosure on top of that exploitation, so that the art, as a whole, may advance faster.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38591062)

Sure. Copyright protects a specific tangible embodiment. If I cut and paste your source code without permission, I've infringed your copyright. If I play with your program for a while and then code an identical program on my own, I have not infringed your copyright. If I send your program to my team of reverse engineers and coders in Russia and crank out my own copy, I have not infringed your copyright. Thus, it's relatively trivial to get around copyright, particularly if I've got money.

That is the point. My copyright doesn't prevent you from making a similar product and we have to compete with each other based on software quality and customer service. Sure you can make a knock off but if you don't understand your customer needs or satisfy them well enough, then in theory I could still make money because I would have the reputation and the market lead to remain competitive. You act like foreign companies don't already infringe patents with impunity and only wealthy companies can afford the legal expenses needed to defend the knockoffs from entering the US market.

Furthermore, copyright infringement is just as expensive as patent litigation, if not more so... You have to actually prove not just that my program is identical to your program, but that I copied your program rather than writing it on my own. One of your arguments against patents was the high cost of litigation - copyright is just as bad, if not worse.

Except that the entry into market with copyrights is substantially lower. Protection from either mechanism is expensive, however with copyright I can at least make some money. You must admit only wealthy corporations or corporations backed by VCs interested in eventually acquiring the said patent can afford this protection, so by definition it seems that patent protection limits market access to those that can afford them. Copyright does not.

Sure, but the individual patent is not what causes innovation. As you note, a patent, by definition, prevents others from implementing the same idea. What causes innovation is the required disclosure of the patent. Others can see how the patent owner implemented their idea, and then, rather than recreating the idea, they can innovate new improvements. The alternate situation is in trade secrets, where 100 engineers at 100 companies will all spend time in individual locked R&D labs recreating the same one idea over and over. If the first engineer published, the other companies could take a license, and the other 99 could move on to the next idea. That reduction in "re-invention" and wasted man-hours is how the patent system spurs innovation... not by "rewarding" an inventor. If an idea is economically valuable, someone will eventually invent it and exploit it... what patents do is encourage public disclosure on top of that exploitation, so that the art, as a whole, may advance faster.

I agree with the theory of "re-invention" and wasted man hours. However the quality of the patents being granted needs to be assessed, and some would question the real cost of re-invention since the patent infringement cases seem to be with products that already exist and assumed to have unintentionally violated a patent.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38591528)

That is the point. My copyright doesn't prevent you from making a similar product and we have to compete with each other based on software quality and customer service. Sure you can make a knock off but if you don't understand your customer needs or satisfy them well enough, then in theory I could still make money because I would have the reputation and the market lead to remain competitive. You act like foreign companies don't already infringe patents with impunity and only wealthy companies can afford the legal expenses needed to defend the knockoffs from entering the US market.

Foreign companies can't import or sell their product in the US, or it can get intercepted by customs. As for copyright, if it took you a year of hard work to write the code and I can reverse engineer it in a month, I'm way ahead of you. If we can match each other in the market place, then you're still out a year's salary... and the associated debts.

Except that the entry into market with copyrights is substantially lower.

Stipulated.

Protection from either mechanism is expensive, however with copyright I can at least make some money.

Not really. If you're the RIAA with deep litigation pockets, you can... but even there, they're not making money, but rather getting precedent and public policy established. There's hardly anyone who actually makes money based off their copyright.

You must admit only wealthy corporations or corporations backed by VCs interested in eventually acquiring the said patent can afford this protection, so by definition it seems that patent protection limits market access to those that can afford them. Copyright does not.

I'd say that patent protection is limited to those who can afford them (or be bought by those who can afford them), but that copyright protection is almost negligible in a commercial environment. Why copy your code? At $150k statutory damages, it's cheaper to hire 15 foreign coders for under $10k each to crank out something indistinguishable, and copyright won't help you there.

I agree with the theory of "re-invention" and wasted man hours. However the quality of the patents being granted needs to be assessed, and some would question the real cost of re-invention since the patent infringement cases seem to be with products that already exist and assumed to have unintentionally violated a patent.

Sure, but that's a different argument. Talk about how patent prosecution can be improved, and I'll be right there with proposals. Talk about how it's bad, so therefore software patents should be abolished, and my answer is that it's unrelated to "software", it makes no sense to penalize an industry based on deficiencies at the USPTO, and it's throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38591590)

I also believe that software patents are counter productive and slowing our progress.

A lot of Slashdotters believe this, but none are able to offer any evidence other than a gut feeling, and gut feelings won't convince Congress to amend the Patent Act. Do you have any evidence? Software has been patentable for about 30 years... How has our progress been slowed in that time, and where would we be now otherwise?

RFW [wikipedia.org]

Re:Software patents stymie more than helps... (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#38590886)

The only good news is that all these retarded patents will expire, and at least in less than life + 75 years.

Assets (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38596688)

The problem now, is you have companies like Google spending BILLIONS on acquiring Patents. What would happen if someone just said one day, "Oh by the way, no more Patents!"

Billions of dollars in "assets" would evaporate. I suspect they might resist that or require compensation.

It's a snowball that just continues to get bigger gathering momentum along the way. Stopping it may prove a challenge.

Apple files patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38585126)

Google buys patents /. seems to think one of the two is more evil than the other. Go figure.

IBM forgot to use them... (1)

sco_robinso (749990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585496)

IBM's probably selling the patents because they forgot to put them to use them in the steaming load of horse crap that is Domino/Lotus.

Re:IBM forgot to use them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38589656)

Don't be stupid, Domino is a solid product. if you don't like using shit then stop using exchange. All the big corps using domino must not know that exchange is a superior product. idiot!!

Re:IBM forgot to use them... (1)

sco_robinso (749990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38597364)

Not that I normally repond to trolls/flaimbaits, but I've actually spend about half my career (5-6 years) with Domino, half with Exchange (7-8) (and a bit with Groupwise - 1 year) -- so I'm think I'm in a reasonable position to be able to talk about the two intelligently.

I spend more time in a month managing Domino issues than I do in a year or two with Exchange. It's not that Domino doesn't work, it's just that it's 'death by a thousand papercuts' - literally. With Exchange (and to it's credit, groupwise as well), I more or less don't have to touch it after initial install and config. A couple changes hereand there over the following months, and DONE. With 8.5 FP1, I spent months tweaking the crap out of config files, and it took the better part of a month just to get DAOS working properly without crashing (on a completely fresh install). And then just simple maintenance over the following years is long and painful.

Despite IBM's perpetual propaganda, most big companies are moving off Domino, for mail at least. Domino is half decent on the groupware side, but for all but the big fortune 500 companies, it's just too much of a pain for simple mail and a bit of groupware. Honestly, Domino is like SAP - if you have a whole giant-ass department of people to manage it for you, it's not half bad - precisely because you have a giant-ass department of people managing it. For anyone sub-enterprise, it's a waste of time and money.

It's not even any cheaper, either. I recently worked for an SMB (150 users) who was on domino (7.0.3), but on the fence about staying with them. So we have IBM quote us 8.5 (with Sametime, and a few other small pieces), and it comes out to be almost double what Exchange plus sharepoint came out to. And this is AFTER we grilled them and grilled them for discounts. All the while IBM is telling us that "SMB is actually their bread and butter clientele". Both on price, complexity, and infrastructure, Domino just doesn't compete sub-enterprise.

The only reason the company was on Domino in the first place is because the owner liked 123 back in the early 90's, and thought Domino would be a good idea.

Or do I need to elaborate further?

P.S. - Let's not forget about 99% of the user base that HATES the client, and BEGS for outlook.
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